Teen lobbies Luxon to bring back international flights

Taieri College pupil Benjamin Paterson with Prime Minister Christopher Luxon today. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Taieri College pupil Benjamin Paterson with Prime Minister Christopher Luxon today. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Can Prime Minister Christopher Luxon say "no" to an ambitious and thought-provoking young teen who is asking him to support the return of international flights back to Dunedin?

Only time will tell.

Taieri College pupil Benjamin Paterson (14) met the PM today to discuss the proposal, after he surveyed the local community about whether they would like to see flights from Dunedin Airport, direct to Australia again.

The overwhelming majority of survey respondents had been in support of it and he had also received many positive comments and messages from people wanting to help, including the Mosgiel Taieri Community Board.

The response prompted him to go straight to the top — Mr Luxon, who is also a former Air New Zealand chief executive.

Benjamin said Mr Luxon did not offer any government assistance to help bring his initiative to fruition, but he did offer some advice on how it could be pursued.

"He seemed pretty neutral about it. He didn’t really show any personal opinions about it, but he has helped set us on the right path.

"He told me about the economics of running an airline and how it works.

"He said he would get us in touch with some airline executives from Qantas and Air New Zealand, so I can tell them about my campaign.

"That’s good. It’s given me a bit of a push in the right direction."

Aside from the discussion, Benjamin said it was a great experience to meet one of the most powerful people in New Zealand, face to face.

"He was nice.

"It was good to meet a bigwig — someone in power who could help me."

He said his next steps were to wait for Mr Luxon to send some contact details, and then he would target the airlines to explain his campaign.

"Then we’ll go from there — wherever that takes us."

Dunedin Airport business development general manager Megan Crawford has said the airport was continuing to identify and pursue opportunities with both existing and new airline partners, to re-establish flights between Dunedin and Australia.